DOB: July 14, 1974
Birthplace: Hong Kong
Occupation: Hair Expert
Residence: Los Angeles
Nelson Chan is one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed hair gurus with A-list clients including Heather Graham and Lady Gaga. Prior to opening his now successful Nelson J Salon in Beverly Hills, Chan experienced numerous tumultuous years building his brand, a testament to his courage, determination and creative talents. He comes from a traditional Chinese family whose roots are in Hong Kong. Concerned about the Hong Kong handover to China in 1997, his family decided to move to the United States when he was 17 years old.
Making his new home in Los Angeles, the affable and quickly adaptable Chan found America to be fun and expansive. After cosmetology school, he went on to work at several salons before partnering with Stuart Gavert to open the Gavert Atelier Salon. It was a partnership that would last nearly 10 years, where Chan further honed his now infamous coloring expertise. In 2007, Chan opened Nelson J salon, where he pioneered the non-bleach highlight along with his line of Argan oil-based hair care products.
Today Chan helms a full staff of hair cut, blow-dry and coloring experts while being consultant to other international hair stylists on techniques to combat anti-aging, frizziness and how to successfully run a salon.
Passion drives celebrity hairstylist Nelson Chan to create beautiful hair and images of perfection. When asked what element makes a woman look youthful and beautiful, he answers, “A smile. When a woman smiles, her happiness radiates from within and helps create a look of real joy and youthfulness. When someone is unhappy, we see more their creases and folds, and less sparkle and glow in their eyes and overall appearance.”
Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong, and emigrated to the United States as a teenager in the early 90s. He always liked art and improving the visual appearances of physical objects. He chose to study cosmetology, graduating from Citrus College in Los Angeles, and made hair coloring his specialty. In 1995, he began a rewarding two-year apprenticeship with renowned colorist Stuart Gavert at a premier Beverly Hills salon. Chan soon mastered coloring techniques by intertwining the client’s personality with hues that complemented their mood, lifestyle, or movie role. “A woman should be true to herself but her hair color can be an expression of what’s going on in her life,” he says.
In 1998, Chan briefly became a colorist at Gavert Atelier salon, where his career blossomed and he started appearing in numerous articles in major publications including InStyle, Allure, and others. In August 2007, he boldly founded the Nelson J Salon in Beverly Hills (nelsonjsalon.com), which specializes in natural hair coloring and immediately garnered the coveted “Best of L.A.” award from Los Angeles Magazine for ammonia-free hair coloring. Chan then created his own natural hair straightening called “Beverly Hills Straight,” which combined formaldehyde-free keratin smoothing with Japanese straightening. To this day, the salon’s diverse array of services includes: cuts, color, color correction, blow outs, event styling, hair extensions, straightening and relaxing, conditioning, waxing, massage, makeup application, manicure & pedicure.
Since coming into his own as a celebrity hairstylist and building up a solid Hollywood clientele, Chan has pursued innovative techniques in his field, including pioneering “Non-Bleach Highlighting,” where no bleach is used in the process. It is perfect for dry, damaged hair and prevents hair color from fading. In terms of palette, he has created a more natural looking Soft Ombre which outshadows the traditional Ombre, which sometimes appears harsh. For women and men developing grey hairs, he has introduced a number of techniques to soften their appearance and make them look more natural when trying to “cover up” greys, and avoid looking too pale and artificial. He also offers practical advice for covering up greys, so that clients can perform maintenance on a budget.
In 2013, Chan introduced a Color Touch Up Bar at his salon, which offers quick color retouch services for women and men on the go, which require only 15 minutes of processing time versus the normal 45 minutes thanks to a new light technology from Japan, along with partial highlights services, in addition to a new hair extension rental service. That same year, he launched Nelson j Beverly Hills, an exciting new collection of multi-functional haircare and styling products. The collection’s key ingredients include argan, citrus and peppermint oils, with no parabens or sulfates. Chan selected argan oil because of its ability to clean hair extremely well.
Chan attributes much of his success to his study of photography, and knows how to achieve the colors and styles his clients selected from photographs on hand. Having photographed extensively, he formulates colors so that they can appear to be the same as in the photos, or else he helps the client understand how both the camera and the process of reproduction may dramatically alter hair color, resulting in a color or appearance that is totally different from how it appeared prior to being reproduced. Being a master at mixing palettes, Chan also manipulates colors so that hair appears stronger and bolder when clients appear on camera.
Chan continues to be a much sought after hairstylist and media expert for anti-aging issues, styling tips, trends, and caring for damaged hair. He works closely with some of the top styling tool and hair color innovators in the field of hair care and color research and development. Chan has been perfecting his hair color and styling techniques on several VIPs including Lady Gaga and Heather Graham.
Currently, Chan is developing a number of at-home products and in-salon services to address the issue of frizz, which is the new tell-tale sign of aging. Equally as unsightly as grey hair, frizzy hair becomes drier and more uneven as people age. He loves showing clients how nurturing frizzy hair back to a hydrated state with a softer texture can help restore the client’s look of youthfulness. Always an advocate of healthy hair, he is dedicated to ongoing research on all-natural ingredients that promote health from within the hair cuticle.
Having already accomplished so much in the salon and enjoying every minute of his craft, Chan continues dividing time between the salon and his outside work on hair product development, as well as continuing to raise two young sons with his wife Ayumi Chan.